Dr. Richard Keller acknowledges that COVID-19 symptoms in children and teenagers may be milder than those in adults, but that doesn’t mean those younger than 18 shouldn’t be tested.
“Symptoms, especially with kids and teenagers, can be pretty mild, and if they have known allergies or a little sniffle, they don’t necessarily need to be tested for COVID,” Keller said. “But COVID symptoms are not that different than a regular cold: runny nose, cough, sore throat. So, it’s a judgement call on some kids.
“If it’s any more than a runny nose, I would recommend getting tested.”
Keller said if a child has as a fever, body aches or loss of taste or smell, they should be tested immediately.
He also addressed the topic of false negative tests.
“If you are just exposed to somebody, meaning you have no symptoms at all, and you’re contacted for contact tracing, then you should wait about five days to get tested if you’re asymptomatic,” he said. “If you are tested too soon, it can be a false negative. So, what I tell my patients is, if you get contacted by the school and you have to quarantine for 14 days, no matter what, wait at least five days in before you get tested. Then, if it’s negative, you still have to finish quarantine.”
Keller said most school districts claim that the COVID-19 spread isn’t happening within the school but at outside events.
“Unfortunately, the older kids, especially, are still having gatherings of a lot of people and the spread that we’ve seen,” Keller said. “I think it’s hard to pinpoint for sure, but studies are showing that schools aren’t necessarily transmitting the virus, but friends outside of school are. The numbers are going up and it’s not looking great right now. Teenagers, especially, need to start limiting interactions outside of school with parties and sleepovers.”
Keller is a pediatrician in Cicero who lives in Noblesville.